Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year and a New Focus

It's probably safe to assume that we made through another twisted apocalyptic debacle. The western death wish superimposed on the Mayan cosmovision I hope goes by the wayside like Y2K, Hale Bopp, Red Dawn, solar super storms and all other freeze dried end of days nonsense. But with 2012 gone, or nearly so, we have made it past another year, another presidential election here in the US, and another show of world unity at the summer Olympics. If nothing more with 2012 over now, we have made another revolution around the sun.

And now, another year begins.

In all the years I've worked the bar and restaurant business, I have always hated New Year's Eve. Not only is it dangerous to be out and mixing with the crowd, it is a night of paradoxes. First, many people make New Year's resolutions. This is generally ill-fated because seldom do people hold true to them. Gym membership surges in January and vacant exercise rooms in February prove this. Second, many above said resolutions are made during the height of the gluttony of the holidays, no one thinks clearly then anyway. And third, the boozy nature of New Year's Eve has always bothered me. If you want a good new year to come, why start it hungover?

Yet, here we are, say goodbye to 2012.

I think a good long look at the year ending is not bad form. After all, we just spent 366 days with that year. When we do that, we must ask, did I get everything done that I wanted to accomplish? This is not always an easy question to ask. After all, as already ascertained, many make unreasonable goals and outlandish resolutions. Oftentimes, life can get in the way of even the most earnest goals. When we look back on the year gone, what were the success, what were the failures?

For me and my professional focus, summed up in the description of my blog: Writing and the Pursuit of Publication was a great way to spend 2012. I held true to it. In my April 26, 2012 post “The Writer and the Blog,” I discussed the reason why I think a short description of a blog is important. For me, that small description is how I focus my activities, it's how I remind myself of my goals. Even in years past I did this. 2011: Reading, Writing and the Teaching of Writing. 2010: Collected Works from Wide Ruled Composition Notebooks. Each one of these descriptions have been a way to focus, a way to work and a way for others to recognize what I'm trying to do.

As for 2012, and this retrospection, I held true to my goal. I wrote a great deal in 2012, even considering how much changed in my life with the addition of our son Lucian. And the publication part? Well, there were 24 publications at Sophia Ballou (12 essays and 12 chapbooks). I had some successes with literary magazines: Red Lightbulbs and Word Sound Play each published a short story of mine. The big one, of course, Ring of Fire Books put out my novel Dysphoric Notions.

Now, that was then. What about 2013? The focus? I've started to read Bruce Chatwin's book What Am I Doing Here and it has made a big impact on me. Mr. Chatwin was the itinerant writer. He seemed to know everyone. His stories dating from the early 1970s until the late 1980s are insightful, fun and great to read. While reading these all I want is to know everyone and write about them. Great stuff. This along with the two interviews I did in 2012, one with Amanda Bales and the second with Julianna Spallholz really make me wonder what more I can do? It makes me want to learn about other writers, publications and modes of thought. In a way, what this means is moving out of myself a little and building a community. A community of writers and publishers. Not a bad way thinking about a year's focus.

Of course, I will still write in my favorite wide ruled notebooks. Of course, I will still read. I will still pursue publication. Who knows? 2013 may lead me back to the classroom.

Writing and Building a Writer's Community

Setting goals as a writer is one of the most important things you can do. Setting new year's goals on the 31st of December that are unachievable, outlandish or impossible is not only inappropriate, but futile. After all, if you want to write a novel in the month of January and you fall short within the first week you will be discouraged and counterproductive. If you change your focus, as I am suggesting, and look at the task as a year long endeavor, you may be more productive.

Looking back at the 3 years I've been keeping this blog, I have to ask myself how much more of this can I possibly do? I mean, haven't I said all that I'm going to say? I've been at this weekly since April of 2010. How many more reflections can I possibly give on the writing process? How many more play by play announcements can I give on the process of the screenplay, the novel, the pursuit of publication or the reading of novels? Tough to say. It's just time for me to branch out.

Writing is one thing. It is a solitary act. Reading is just as solitary. Chances are if there is anyone reading these words at all, they are reading them alone, just as I am writing them alone. But there is room for conversation. There is room for community. There is room for discussion. There is ample room for all of us.

The focus of 2013? Keep writing. Build community. Be successful. 

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